Feeding a blockbuster book franchise is a fascinating operation. It requires incredible speed, durable characters, and, in the case of Michael Connelly, an unerring ability to come up with ways to get detective Harry Bosch into an underground tunnel so his Vietnam War demons can be dredged up. (Fans will know what I’m talking about.) Echo Park fills the bill on all counts. A hard-boiled affair built around a wisp of a plot, the 12th Bosch book finds the detective obsessed with an old murder case and doubting the man who has confessed to the killing. After some perfunctory squabbles with a squirrelly DA, Bosch pops on his lone-paladin-of-justice hat and goes hunting for the truth. The language is spare and brutal. The story, simple and propulsive. The results, wildly entertaining and swiftly disposable.
Some time ago, Connelly separated himself from more literary peers like Dennis Lehane by virtue of the sheer volume of work he turns out. It’s been both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, we’re on his 17th novel now, and it’s clear he’ll never have to stint on new material. On the other, the former L.A. Times crime writer seems increasingly unlikely to reach the heights of pop masterworks like Blood Work, The Poet, and The Concrete Blonde again anytime soon.